Here’s how many billions the US will spend on nuclear weapons over the next decade via Defense News

WASHINGTON — If the U.S. carries out all of its plans for modernizing and maintainingthe nuclear arsenal, it will cost $494 billion over the next decade, an average of just less than $50 billion per year, a new government estimate has found.

The number, part of a biannual estimate put out by the Congressional Budget Office, is 23 percent over the previous estimate of $400 billion released in 2017. That 2017 figure was a 15 percent increase over the 2015 number.

The number will likely grab attention in Congress, especially on the House Armed Services Committee, where new Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., has made it clear he’s looking for ways to save money by cutting nuclear costs.


Just more than half of that increase, however, is based on a technicality, driven by the fact that this projection covers two years later than the 2017 projection did, and a number of modernization programs will be further along — and hence costlier. Overall, the $494 billion figure represents roughly 6 percent of overall projected defense spending during that time period.


Overall, the Pentagon and the Department of Energy are preparing to spend the money in the following way:

  • $234 billion on strategic nuclear delivery systems and weapons, including submarines (an estimated $107 billion over this time period), intercontinental ballistic missiles ($61 billion) and long-range bombers ($49 billion, less than the full projected cost of the dual-use bomber fleet); the nuclear warheads for use from those systems; and DOE’s funding of nuclear reactors for the submarine fleet. 
  • $15 billion on tactical nuclear delivery systems and weapons, including tactical aircraft for delivering weapons; management of the warheads for those tactical aircraft; and funding for the new submarine-launched cruise missile. 
  • $106 billion for DOE’s nuclear weapons laboratories and production facilities, where America’s stockpile of nuclear warheads are maintained and developed. The department has a longstanding backlog on maintenance and upgrades for its locations. 
  • $77 billion on nuclear command, control, commutations and early warning systems, used to coordinate any nuclear-related issues. While not as flashy as the weapons themselves, Pentagon officials over the last two years have sounded the alarm that nuclear command and control is at risk of being outdated without major investments. 

The remaining $62 billion in projected costs come from “CBO’s estimate of additional costs that would be incurred over the 2019–2028 period if the costs of nuclear programs exceeded planned amounts at roughly the same rates at which costs for similar programs have grown in the past.”

When all that is factored in, CBO’s estimated annual cost rises from $33.6 billion in 2019 to about $63 billion in 2028, a roughly 90 percent increase over that period.

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